Late last week, the State Board of Education approved requirements for remote learning in the anticipation that some form of remote learning will be part of the 2020-2021 school year for all public schools. This bulletin was released last Thursday.
The last part of that release highlighted five specific requirements for each school system.
- Consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties.
- Surveying student and teacher home connectivity and providing for remote instruction that is appropriate for teachers and students with limited connectivity capability, including the opportunity for students to download remote learning materials in advance when practicable.
- Ensuring that remote instructional time, practice, and application components support learning growth that continues towards mastery of the standard course of study; and including work measurement guidelines appropriate to each grade level, including deadlines for submission of assignments and methods to assess and grade learning during remote instruction.
- Ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units and that remote instruction is provided in a manner consistent with each student’s individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan.
- Tracking and reporting attendance on remote instruction days, including protocols for determining attendance, the reporting system to be used, and how attendance procedures will be communicated to parents before remote instruction begins.
But look closely at those requirements and what they can encompass and then ask these questions:
What does “consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties” actually mean? A survey of a few questions does not simply cover this.
Does “surveying student and teacher home connectivity” to ensure that all students and teachers be given the resources to provide for remote learning mean investing money in a digital infrastructure throughout the county/city? If the state constitution says that each student will have access to a free sound education, does that mean that people have to spend money to make themselves ready for remote learning with their own devices and internet connections?
Will each school system offer professional development and collaboration time for schools and teachers to prepare for going remote instead of asking them to learn “on the fly” as has happened this spring?
Are school systems really ready to “ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units?” And is Betsy DeVos aware of this? (As she has seemed oblivious to IDEA for over three years.)
And there are many more questions that need to be asked.